We’ve cherry-picked London’s best undiscovered destinations and even planned the route. Taking you from Marylebone to Covent Garden, it’s the ultimate beauty lover’s tour.
Tired of weekends spent at pubs and prosecco brunches? From a secret indie perfume boutique to a concept store housed in a converted coach house, a stroll through the city’s hidden beauty gems makes for the perfect alternative one-day adventure. Grab your Oyster card and leave the rest to us…
Start your journey in the morning by delving into…
Bel Rebel – a boutique perfume bazaar
32 Seymour Place, Marylebone, W1H 7NR
The epitome of a hidden gem, this independent niche fragrance boutique – that opened its doors in December 2018 – is an olfactory Aladdin’s cave. With dusky pink velvet chairs and rose gold accents, it’s worlds apart from the bustling Marble Arch stores mere streets away. Offering carefully-curated luxury scents from around the world, particularly the Middle East, the tales behind the brands are as captivating as the fragrances themselves.
Take a left as you exit the shop and walk straight to the end of the road before turning left again down Seymour Street. Stroll straight ahead for 15 minutes and on your left you’ll see the illustrious facade of…
John Bell & Croyden – a heritage-steeped apothecary
50-54 Wigmore Street, Marylebone, W1U 2AU
Your second stop prides itself on being the official pharmacy to the Royal Household. Situated in the same building since 1912, it’s a real hidden gem of cult beauty products stashed amongst glass cloches and original pestle and mortars. Take a look at the Royal Receipt Book that lists prescriptions requested by Florence Nightingale and items, like cold cream, sent to the Royal Family over hundreds of years. If you’re in need of a skin fix, book in at the InResidence Beauty room for a bespoke 30-minute facial from Natura Bissé, SkinCeuticals or Dermalogica. Starting with a vitamin drink and consultation, it’s £60 with £30 of the cost redeemable against products.
If you fancy upping your step count, walk the next one-mile stretch through plush Mayfair via the stunning Burlington Arcade. Look out for special products and in-store beauty events throughout March 2019 to celebrate its 200th anniversary. Then drop in for a takeaway Ladurée macaroon and coffee for the sweetest kind of pick-me-up. Alternatively, hop onto the Jubilee Line at Bond Street, just one stop Southbound to Green Park. It’s a seven-minute stroll along Piccadilly from there…
Anatomē – a mini wellness escape
2-4 Princes Arcade, Piccadilly, St. James, SW1Y 6DS
We challenge you not to feel calm and composed from the moment you set foot inside this airy wellness space that has ‘mindfulness’ at its heart. Browse its own brand of mood-boosting elixirs including body oils, teas and supplements designed to aid everything from sleep to concentration. Upstairs, the lounge hosts pre-bookable talks and workshops by authors and nutritional experts.
As you exit the shop, come back out of the arcade, turn right and walk straight over Piccadilly Circus into Chinatown. Take a small detour via the Wong Kei Restaurant at 41-43 Wardour Street and look up. The Blue Plaque and clock commemorate Willy Clarkson – a theatrical wigmaker and make-up supplier who resided there between 1904 and 1934. Then pass through Gerrard Street, right onto Newport Place and left into Newport Court for…
P2Bus – a Korean beauty playground
21 Newport Court, Chinatown, WC2H 7JS
Short for ‘proud to be us,’ this kitsch emporium was founded in 2009 for Asian newcomers whose skin had struggled to adjust to the UK climate. Nestled amongst the area’s buzzy grocery stores, it’s brimming with products from over 300 of the kookiest brands straight from Japan, China and Korea. They’re pricier than you’d pay online but the eclectic offering, including sheet masks and essences, is well worth a snoop if you’re a K-Beauty fan.
Next, you’re heading to Covent Garden. Turn right out of the shop and walk just five minutes along Great Newport Street and Garrick Street, past the memorial statue of the queen of crime fiction, author Agatha Christie. Now’s the time for lunch and there’s nothing like the botanical surroundings of La Goccia in Petersham Nurseries to make you forget you’re in the capital’s West End. Then dive next door to…
Floral Street – a blooming wonderland
30 King Street, WC2E 8JD
We’re not sure what’s more divine – Floral Street’s scents, its bottles or the dreamy interior of its flagship store with its personable ‘Floristas’ on hand. All the packaging is sustainably sourced and the outer boxes compostable. You won’t be able to resist the Floral Street Discovery Set, £14 (but worth £24) or the Scented Notelets, £12 for five. Head back for its Scent School (on the first Wednesday of every month) for more in-depth scent exploration, prosecco and a goodie bag at £20 a ticket.
For your penultimate stop, duck back across the courtyard of Petersham Nurseries and through the alleyway to the cobbles of Floral Street. In the lane that pays homage to Covent Garden’s flower market past, you’ll immediately spot…
The Shop at Bluebird – an uber-chic concept store
Carriage Hall, 29 Floral Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9DP
This curiosity shop for fashion, art and – of course – beauty has moved from its perennial Chelsea home to a Grade II-listed former coach house, complete with beams and the original pulleys. Housed under an incredible glass atrium and tumbling foliage, you can peruse the best from the likes of Oskia, Votary and Bella Freud candles.
Top off your day with a five-minute walk over to Neal Street. For your final fix of history-spotting, look out for the ‘Floral Street ears.’ Installed by artist Tim Fishlock, they’re a protest against our ‘Big Brother’ society.’ One’s next to The TinTin Shop and another shortly after on the wall of Ted Baker. Before you know it, you’ll have landed at…
Nail Club – an Instagram-ready pamper lounge
29 Neal Street, WC2H 9PR
What better way to thank your feet than with a pedi? Expect Insta-glam pink and red everything from this retreat tucked within the Skinny Dip store. Sign up to become a member in advance for £20 and you’ll get 30 per cent off all treatments. Our favourite part? You can pay for nail art by the nail (at just £1) as an add-on with any other treatment including the £18 Skinny Mini – a speedy file and paint.
Main image: Getty